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What If…? season 2 is the most fun the MCU has been all year

Published Dec 26th, 2023 7:21PM EST
What If...? season 2 features plenty of Iron Man. From other realities, of course.
Image: Marvel

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Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, Secret Invasion, Loki season 2, The Marvels, and What If…? season 2. That’s the 2023 MCU year review for you. Unfortunately, things haven’t been great for Marvel this year, and that’s especially clear when you realize that What If…? season 2 is the most fun you’ve had with Marvel all year, except maybe for Loki season 2.

I know I did, and I can’t put down What If…? With each episode in season 2, I’m more amazed at how good these short animated stories are. And I can’t wait to see what comes next. Mind you, some spoilers might follow.

What If…? season 2 is streaming on Disney Plus

I was a fan of the first season of Marvel’s What If…?, and I liked it even more when I realized there was going to be a larger story at play. Fast-forward to Christmas 2023, and Marvel is releasing one What If…? season 2 episode every day.

As I write this, I’ve seen five episodes, and my anticipation has been growing with each one of them. I am expecting a larger storyline like in season 1, but so far, it’s not clear what it is. And that’s incredible.

The best part of What If…? is that you don’t need a larger story for the episodes to work. The Multiverse Saga is that larger story. Each episode comes from a different reality. It can be loosely connected to other What If…? episodes, or it can be a completely distinct one. You don’t even need to be an MCU fan for these episodes to work. And you can watch them in any order.

What If...? season 2 debuts on December 22.
What If…? season 2 debuts on December 22. Image source: Marvel Studios

But if you’re a longtime MCU fan like me, you’ll appreciate the What If…? adventures even more. You already know the characters, and you recognize the voices. Many of the MCU stars are voicing the animated versions of their beloved characters.

You know the MCU version of that superhero’s story, and the context is familiar. It’s very fun to explore the possibilities. To see what might have been and wonder how these variants will interact with the greater story.

The fact is, however, that the What If…? season 2 episodes are great stories. They’re well-made and fun to watch. With five episodes down, I’m already having a hard time choosing a favorite. Comparatively, season 1’s episode 4 (Doctor Strange lost his heart instead of his hands was the clear standout of season 1’s first five episodes.

The stories are surprisingly amazing

I just loved What if… Nebula Joined the Nova Corps? (episode 1). Then, we got the amazing Die-Hard-esque What if… Happy Hogan Saved Christmas? (episode 3).

If you thought it couldn’t get any better, you’d have been surprised just a day later. Iron Man Crashed Into the Grandmaster is the story of an alternate Iron Man who turned a different Gamora variant into an ally. Ultimately, the two of them killed that universe’s Thanos (Josh Brolin).

That Gamora, by the way, is the Gamora we saw in the Guardians of the Multiverse team from What If…? season 1.

Speaking of that team, episode 5 explains what happened to them while focusing on the Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) variant, who was a member of the group as Captain Carter. She returned to her reality in Captain Carter Fought the Hydra Stomper, which is another incredible episode full of action and alternate events.

What If...? Avengers team
The Guardians of the Multiverse in What If…? finale. Image source: Marvel Studios

By the end of it, the Avengers of 1602, an episode that will follow, kidnap Carter, and it’s all thanks to a Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) variant from the Middle Ages. She’s working with a Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) version from the same timeline, which I’m stoked to see. Even the Watcher (Jeffrey Wright) is surprised.

The best part is we don’t have to wait a few more weeks to see what happens next. I’ll be done with What If…? by the time the year ends. A new episode is released every day on Disney Plus, a first for MCU content.

Like I said before, none of the Marvel shows, with the exception of Loki season 2, got me this excited. What’s also interesting is that both Loki season 2 and What If…? season 2 are part of the same theme: the multiverse.

Can’t wait for Marvel to fix the MCU stories

Loki season 2 feels more like homework. Understand the Loki show, and you understand how the multiverse works. It might feel complicated at times, and a rewatch might be needed. But What If…? feels like seeing the multiverse in action.

All of the action in What If…? is possible because Loki (Tom Hiddleston) is maintaining the safety of the multiverse. And, who knows, we might see some of these What If…? characters down the line.

I’ll also say that, yes, animation gives Marvel more freedom to do things. It’s much cheaper to create these stunning action scenes in animated form. But that’s not why I like What If…? season 2 so much. Again, it’s the stories these episodes tell. That’s what Marvel has to replicate: getting back to telling good stories. Because 2023 hardly delivered on that one.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.